overwhelmed frustrated woman.
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The 12-12-12 Decluttering Challenge: My Secret to Finally Conquering Clutter

According to a 2023 study by StorageCafe, 21% of Americans rent a self-storage unit, with another 15% planning to do so in the future. Consumer Affairs adds that the average unit costs $90 to $190 monthly ($1080 to $2280 annually). Yet, making the narrative worse, these figures do not include the cost of time spent looking for something that was never put in a proper place due to too much junk. 

Clutter costs time, living space, and money. As a new mom-to-be at 42 with a finite amount of time, money, and space in a two-bedroom home with less than 1200 square feet, I needed to downsize the stuff I owned to prepare for my first baby. Despite the daunting thoughts of parting with some of my belongings, I decided a 12-12-12 decluttering challenge was worth trying. The idea of simplifying my life and getting rid of excess clutter was appealing, so I was determined to try it and see its impact on my daily life.

What Is the 12-12-12 Decluttering Challenge?

The 12-12-12 decluttering challenge is a simple and effective way to get started with decluttering. The challenge involves getting rid of 12 items you no longer need, finding 12 items you can donate, and putting 12 items in a proper place.

The idea behind the challenge is to simplify your life by reducing clutter and freeing up space in your home. You can create a more organized and peaceful living environment by getting rid of items you no longer need. The challenge is also a great way to give back to your community by donating items in good condition.

My 12-12-12 Challenge

I decided to take on the 12-12-12 decluttering challenge after feeling overwhelmed by clutter with a new baby on the way. He would need at least one closet, a kitchen cabinet for bottles and formula, and bathroom space at a minimum. I preferred the 12-12-12 challenge because I didn’t want to sell anything, and I have a lot of small areas in my home filled with clutter, like junk drawers, under the bathroom sink, and kitchen cabinets. 

So, the challenge was simple: find 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to put away properly. I was excited to see how much progress I could make in just one day. However, I quickly realized how much unnecessary stuff I had accumulated over the years and that the challenge would take more than one day. 

Once I got going, I found it liberating to let go of items that no longer served a purpose or brought me joy and as I continued to sort through my belongings, I felt more focused and energized. It was as if clearing physical clutter had also cleared mental clutter, allowing me to be more productive and present in my daily life.

I started by going through my closet and quickly found 12 items I no longer wore or needed. I then moved on to my kitchen and found another 12 items to donate, including some old appliances and dishes that I never used. I went through my bookshelves, kitchen cabinets, and bathroom. As I continued to declutter, I found it easier to let go of things that I had been holding onto for far too long. I was even able to sell some items I had meant to get rid of for months, and I felt a sense of relief as I watched them go to new homes.

The 12-12-12 decluttering challenge was a great experience for me. It helped me to let go of things that were no longer serving me and to create more space in my home. I was surprised at how quickly I was willing to part with things as the challenge continued. I kept telling myself that if I truly missed something I was letting go of, I could buy it again. I recommend this challenge to anyone overwhelmed by clutter and looking for a quick and easy way to start decluttering.

Tips and Tricks for Future Challengers

When I started the 12-12-12 decluttering challenge, I was excited and motivated to eliminate the excess clutter in my home. However, as time passed, I lost steam and struggled to stay motivated. Here are some tips that helped me stay on track:

  • Create a decluttering schedule: I found it helpful to create a schedule for myself, breaking the decluttering process into manageable chunks. By setting specific goals and deadlines, I could stay motivated and focused.
  • Set aside dedicated decluttering time: I found setting aside specific time blocks for decluttering each day helpful. Whether 30 minutes or an hour, having dedicated time on my calendar helped me stay on track.
  • Prioritize your tasks: When decluttering, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff you need to sort through. To make the process more manageable, prioritize your tasks and focus on one area at a time.
  • Use downtime: Decluttering doesn’t have to be an all-consuming task. Look for opportunities to declutter during downtime, such as watching TV or waiting for laundry to finish.
  • Celebrate small victories: Decluttering can be a daunting task, but celebrating small victories along the way can help keep you motivated. Whether clearing out a single drawer or donating a bag of clothes, acknowledge your progress and pat yourself on the back.
  • Try Different Decluttering Challenges to maintain a clutter-free space: Decluttering is ongoing. Finding ways to stay motivated is important. You can always start with a 5-5-5 decluttering challenge, 10-10-10 decluttering challenge, 20-20 rule for decluttering, or the rule of 5 decluttering.
  • Get an accountability partner: Having someone to hold you accountable can motivate you. Consider enlisting a friend or family member to join you in the challenge, or simply ask someone to periodically check in on your progress.

You Can Do It

With no shortage of things to declutter, the challenge was not easy, but it was worth it. I was able to declutter my closet, my kitchen, and my living room. I got rid of clothes I hadn’t worn in years, kitchen appliances I never use, and old books that were just taking up space. I also organized my remaining items to make them easier to find and use.

One thing that I learned during this challenge is that decluttering is not a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process that requires constant attention. I plan to continue decluttering and organizing my space regularly to maintain the progress that I have made. 

I highly recommend the 12-12-12 decluttering challenge to anyone who wants to simplify life and create a more organized home. It’s a great way to get started on minimalism and enjoy the benefits of a clutter-free space.

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